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Nine area soccer teams left standing ahead of GHSA soccer quarterfinals
Top-ranked East Hall, Johnson boys teams preparing for toughest tests of the season
0506SOCCER
East Hall's Leo Toledo (10) pushes the ball downfield while being guarded by Dawson County's Nick Murphy (5) earlier this season as East Hall hosted Dawson County for the Region 7-AAA title. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Quarterfinals

Friday, May 6

Boys

Class AAAA

Buford at No. 6 Grady, 7 p.m.

No. 3 Southeast Whitfield at No. 1 Johnson, 6:30 p.m.

Class AAA

No. 4 Dawson County at No. 7 Oconee County, 7:30 p.m.

No. 2 Blessed Trinity at No. 1 East Hall, 7:30 p.m. 

Class AA

No. 3 Greater Atlanta Christian at No. 5 Riverside Military Academy, 5:30 p.m.

Girls

Class AAA

No. 2 Decatur at No. 6 Lumpkin County, 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 7

Girls

Class AAAA

No. 7 North Hall at No. 1 Marist, 3 p.m.

No. 5 Grady at No. 4 Buford, 5 p.m. Saturday

Class AAA

No. 1 Westminster at No. 4 Dawson County, 7 p.m.

Nine area soccer teams remain in contention ahead of the upcoming GHSA soccer tournament quarterfinals.

Top-ranked boys teams East Hall and Johnson face their toughest tests yet Friday evening against second-ranked Blessed Trinity and third-ranked Southeast Whitfield, respectively.

Meanwhile, both boys and girls teams from Buford and Dawson County are seeking berths into the semifinals following impressive playoff runs so far.

Check out these preview capsules to read up on who your team will be playing, and what they’ll need to do to move one step closer to a state title.

No. 2 Blessed Trinity at No. 1 East Hall boys, 7:30 p.m. Friday

Records: Blessed Trinity (13-5-1) East Hall (19-1)

Season so far: East Hall is the No. 1 seed from Region 7-AAA, while Blessed Trinity is the No. 1 seed from Region 4-AAA.

Led by senior striker Leo Toledo (71 goals so far this season), East Hall is riding an 11-game win streak. Blessed Trinity has won eight of its last nine games dating back to March 22.

East Hall has one win over top-10 talent from Class AAA, a region victory over Dawson County. Blessed Trinity has two wins over third-ranked Westminster and a loss to fifth-ranked Decatur.

East Hall’s lone loss of the season was to Johnson, who is top-ranked in Class AAAA.

East Hall has topped Gordon Central and Peach County in the opening two rounds by a combined score of 19-1. Blessed Trinity has topped Southeast Bulloch and East Jackson on its way to the quarterfinal.

The winner of this game will play the winner of Savannah Arts Academy/Calhoun in Tuesday’s state semifinal.

Recent playoff history: East Hall fell to eventual finalists Calhoun in last year’s quarterfinals. Calhoun topped Blessed 
Trinity in last year’s second round.

No. 3 Southeast Whitfield at No. 1 Johnson boys, 6:30 p.m. Friday

Records: Southeast Whitfield (13-2-3), Johnson (18-0-1)

Season so far: Johnson made the playoffs as the No. 1 seed from Region 8-AAAA, while Southeast Whitfield is the No. 2 seed from Region 7-AAAA. 

Undefeated Johnson was ranked the No. 10 best boys spring soccer program in the nation, according to a recent poll by USA Today/National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Striker Fabian Abarca has tallied 42 goals so far this season, including a hat trick against Pike County in this week’s dramatic 6-4 victory.

The Knights defeated Fayette County and Pike County in the opening two rounds to reach the quarterfinals, while Southeast Whitfield has shut out Marist and Windsor Forest to reach Friday’s matchup.

Southeast Whitfield has given up just six goals all season, and has shut out opponents 14 times.

Southeast Whitfield holds losses against traditional Class AAAAA power Dalton and Northwest Whitfield. Both of those teams have been eliminated from the state playoffs. Johnson’s lone tie came last month against Class AAAAAA Collins Hill.

Southeast Whitfield has won seven of its last eight games dating back toMarch 19.

The winner of this game plays the winner of Buford/Grady in Tuesday’s state semifinal.

Recent playoff history: Johnson fell in last year’s quarterfinal round to Cross Keys. The top-ranked Knights have made the state quarterfinals each of the last three years.

No. 1 Westminster at No. 4 Dawson County girls, 7 p.m. Saturday

Records: Westminster (18-1-1), Dawson County (16-1-1)

Season so far: Dawson County is the No. 1 seed from Region 7-AAA, while Westminster is the No. 1 seed from Region 4-AAA. Dawson County is riding a 12-game win streak, while Westminster is unbeaten in 18 straight contests.

Westminster is unbeaten so far this season against teams in the top 10 of Class AAA, including wins over Decatur and Blessed Trinity. Dawson County is 2-0 against top-10 talent, with wins against Savannah Arts Academy and Lumpkin County.

Dawson County shut out Sonoraville and Central in the opening two rounds, while Westminster has shut out Southeast Bulloch and Morgan County.

The winner of this game takes on the winner of Savannah Arts Academy/Adairsville in Tuesday’s state semifinal.

Recent playoff history: Westminster is the defending state champion. Dawson County fell to Westminster in last year’s quarterfinal round.

No. 7 North Hall girls at No. 1 Marist, 3 p.m. Saturday

Records: North Hall (11-7), Marist (19-0-1)

Season so far: North Hall entered the playoffs as the No. 3 seed from Region 8-AAAA, while Marist is the No. 1 seed from Region 6-AAAA. North Hall has won seven games so far this season by a margin of just one goal, including last week’s 4-3 upset win over Carrollton in the first round. Katie Estrada (27 goals) scored on a late penalty kick to help the Lady Trojans top Eagle’s Landing on Wednesday in the second round.

Undefeated Marist shut out Northwest Whitfield and Upson-Lee in the opening two rounds to reach the quarterfinal.

The winner of this game takes on the winner of Woodward Academy/Wayne County in Tuesday’s state semifinal.

Recent playoff history: North Hall last made the state quarterfinals in 2009, when the Lady Trojans reached the state title game. North Hall did not make the playoffs last year. Marist fell to St. Pius X in last year’s state title game.

No. 2 Decatur at No. 6 Lumpkin County girls, 7 p.m. Friday

Records: Decatur (11-4-2), Lumpkin County (15-4)

Season so far: Lumpkin County is the No. 2 seed out of Region 7-AAA.

Decatur is 2-1 in games against top-10 teams from Class AAA, including wins over Blessed Trinity and Oconee County and a loss to Westminster. Lumpkin fell to fourth-ranked Dawson County earlier this season.

Lumpkin County has shut out Calhoun and Rutland in the opening two playoff rounds, while Decatur picked up wins against Islands and Oconee County to reach today’s quarterfinal.

The winner of this game will play the winner of Blessed Trinity/Peach County in Tuesday’s state semifinal.

Recent playoff history: Lumpkin County fell to Blessed Trinity, while Decatur fell to eventual state champions Westminster in last year’s semifinal round.

No. 3 Greater Atlanta Christian at No. 5 Riverside Military Academy, 5:30 p.m. Friday

Records: Greater Atlanta Christian (13-6-1) Riverside Military Academy (11-3-2)

Season so far: Riverside has shut out 10 opposing teams so far this season. Greater Atlanta Christian is 1-2 against teams in the top 10 of Class AA, including a win over Benedictine Military School and losses to Pace Academy and Wesleyan School. Riverside also fell earlier this season to top-ranked Pace Academy.

Riverside has shut out Bowdon and Berrien in the first two rounds of the playoffs, while Greater Atlanta Christian has defeated Model and Jeff Davis by a combined score of 18-0.

The winner of this game will take on the winner of Bremen/Pace Academy in Tuesday’s state semifinal.

Recent playoff history: Riverside fell to Pace Academy in last year’s quarterfinal round. Greater Atlanta Christian has won the last two Class AA state titles.

No. 5 Grady at No. 4 Buford girls, 5 p.m. Saturday

Records: Grady (12-4-2), Buford (17-2)

Season so far: Buford is riding a 16-game win streak dating back to Feb. 26. The Lady Wolves have picked up one win over a top 10 ranked team (North Hall).

Grady has a 2-3 record against top-10 teams, including wins over Whitewater and Chamblee and losses to Marist, St. Pius X and Woodward Academy.

Buford topped Fayette County and Spalding in the opening two playoff rounds to reach Saturday’s game. Grady shut out Cartersville and Windsor Forest.

The winner of this game will take on the winner of Whitewater/St. Pius X Catholic in Tuesday’s state semifinal.

Recent playoff history: Buford fell to eventual state champions St. Pius X in last year’s quarterfinals. Grady fell to Whitewater in last year’s first round.

No. 4 Dawson County boys at No. 7 Oconee County, 7:30 p.m. Friday

Records: Dawson County (14-3-1), Oconee County (15-5)

Season so far: Dawson County has won 12 of its last 13 games dating back to March 2. Dawson County is 1-1 against teams currently ranked in the top 10, including a win over Savannah Arts Academy and a loss to East Hall.

Oconee County is 2-0 against top 10 talent, including wins over Westminster and Jefferson. Oconee County fell to Gainesville earlier in the season in a non-region matchup.

Dawson County has defeated North Murray and Rutland to reach this year’s quarterfinal round. Oconee County routed Rockmart, then won in a penalty kick shootout over Westminster to reach Friday’s quarterfinal.

The winner of this game takes on the winner of Decatur/Sonoraville inTuesday’s state semifinal.

Recent playoff history: Oconee County fell to West Hall in last year’s tournament semifinal, while Dawson County fell to Decatur in last year’s quarterfinals. 

Buford boys at No. 6 Grady, 7 p.m. Friday

Records: Buford (10-5-2), Grady (14-3-1)

Season so far: Grady is 2-1 against teams currently ranked in the top 10 of Class AAAA, with wins over Veterans and St. Pius X and a loss to Cross Keys. The Knights, who were the No. 2 seed out of Region 6-AAAA, are currently riding a seven-game win streak dating back to March 31. Grady defeated Cartersville and Veterans to reach this point.

Buford squeaked into the playoffs as a No. 4 seed out of Region 8-AAAA, but knocked off top-seeded Whitewater in the first round before taking down Walnut Grove 3-0 to set up Friday’s encounter. So far, the Wolves haven’t allowed a goal in the playoffs.

The winner of this game takes on the winner of Johnson/Southeast Whitfield in Tuesday’s state semifinal.

Recent playoff history: Buford fell to Northwest Whitfield and Grady fell to Whitewater in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

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